The Glendale-based nonprofit Center for Armenian Remembrance (CAR) sued the U.S. Federal Reserve on March 4, seeking information on its acquisition of a large amount of Armenian gold looted by the Ottoman government in 1915.
CAR filed the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The gold, originally valued at 5 million Turkish gold liras ($22 million dollars), is now estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently claimed they have no records of any Armenian gold in their possession.
It was not easy to trace the circumstances under which the Armenian-owned gold was transferred from Istanbul to the United States almost a century ago. The results of our research on the convoluted series of transactions are summarized below:
The Ottoman government had seized the gold and other valuables belonging to Armenians deported and killed in the 1915 genocide, expropriating their bank accounts and safe deposit boxes. The Ottoman Liquidation Commission used a complex set of bank transfers to hide the trail of this “blood money.” The Turkish Treasury placed the looted Armenian gold initially in the German Deutschebank in Istanbul. In 1916, the gold was transferred to the Bleichroeder Bank in Vienna, and from there moved to the Reichsbank (German Central Bank) in Berlin and was deposited in the account of Ottoman Public Debt.
At the end of World War I, when the Allied Powers demanded reparations from Germany and its Ottoman Turkish ally, German officials had no choice but to comply with that request, agreeing to turn over to the Allies the Armenian gold held by the Reichsbank. Accordingly, the expropriated Armenian gold was transferred to France and Great Britain in 1921.
A subsequent British document confirms the true ownership of this gold. On Sept. 26 1924, leaders of the two main opposition parties in Great Britain, Liberal Party leader and former Prime Minister H.H. Asquith, and Conservative Party leader and future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald pleading for British assistance to Armenians in view of their support for the Allied cause and the great suffering they endured during World War I. The two British leaders argued that “the sum of 5 million pounds (Turkish gold) deposited by the Turkish Government in Berlin in 1916, and taken over by the Allies after the Armistice, was in large part (perhaps wholly) Armenian money. After the enforced deportation of the Armenians in 1915, their bank accounts, both current and deposit, were transferred by order to the State Treasury at Constantinople. This fact enabled the Turks to send five million sterling to the Reichsbank, Berlin, in exchange for a new issue of notes.”
Subsequently, instead of returning the Armenian gold to its original owners, Britain and France sold it to the United States government through J.P. Morgan Bank in Paris, by exchanging it for U.S. Treasury Certificates.
On Jan. 29, 1925, Senator William H. King submitted Resolution 319 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanding that the looted gold be “set aside in trust” for Armenians. The resolution stated: “The Turkish Government had arbitrarily seized and transferred to the Turkish treasury all bank accounts, both current and deposit, belonging to Armenians, by which Armenian gold in the sum of 5 million Turkish pounds, amounting to $22,450,000, was transferred to the Turkish treasury, which gold was afterwards deposited by the Turkish Government in the Reichsbank at Berlin… Said deposit of Armenian gold in the Reichsbank at Berlin was by article 259 of the Treaty of Versailles transferred and surrendered to the principal allied and associated powers, including the United States… Said deposit in equity and right belongs to the Armenians from whom the same was seized, or to their legal representatives… Said deposit should be set aside in trust to be hereafter paid over to the persons from whom said gold was seized, or to their lawful representatives…”
This gold is just a small portion of the billions of dollars of Armenian assets stolen by Turkey and various other countries during and after the Armenian Genocide. The restitution of all looted Armenian assets, wherever they may be, should be one of the highest priorities for those pursuing justice for the horrendous crimes committed against the Armenian nation.
Where are our friends in the US Congress on this issue?
We need to have more legal actions like this, along with the political activism. Not only in the U.S. but internationally. Anyone has an idea why the legal side of the Cause is lagging behind?
to dave and garo: very good points gentlemen. anyone with any ideas, be it politicians or attorneys, why this long agonizing wait. please come forth and let’s get this huge financial wheel of justice turning.
You guys are out of your minds thinking that such long forgotten history should merit any claim whatsoever from today’s governments and people who have much more important things to do than to satisfy your ego. Wake up and do something for the future or live in the past and die in bitterness.
Ali, your comment is petty and small-minded. This is not at all about ego. Or even money. It is about principle and justice, and about building a future based on truth. It is long overdue that legal actions be taken against the theft and murder of a nation.
To Gerard, the wheels of justice have started rolling. Somewhere else in these pages someone described Turkey’s tactics as a “giant boulder of denial.” Everyone knows that it takes a tremendous effort to start a boulder rolling, but once rolling, can anyone stop it? We Armenians must act together to move this boulder out of our path. It can be done as long as enough of us all push in the same direction.
to ali devil- the jews did it and were very successful at it and so will we. they are back in Germany and living alongside Germans in pease and harmony, something that is not possible in turkey to this day. Armenians, Greeks, kurds etc. still have to change their names. ego, you say, dude, we don’t think so, Armenians are the most patient people in the world and turkey knows that. time has no limit, no barrier. watch us. it is unfortunate however that we have to deal with a lying bunch in ankara that uses lobbies in washington just before the anniversary of the Genocide to try to sway pres. Obama with their misinformation. what are you going to do, that’ the way of murderers.
stay tuned ali babba.
Genocides, unlike wars, are not limited to dates/years. Justice for Genocides continues… until justice is served. Manooshag
Strange comment, Ali. All those who were unjustly robbed at this time certainly have the right to demand compensation, and the Armenians, the other horrendous crimes committed against them apart, were the ones who suffered most.
Theft is theft, is theft. The story of the outright theft this gold, as well as the fate of Armenian bank accounts and the vast Armenian properties in Turkey is very well documented. A huge motivation of the genocide was, in fact, theft, above anything else, due to the financial bankruptcy of the Ottoman empire that came about because of a series of unsuccessful wars, internal financial maneuverings and gross mismanagement. The burden of paying for these fiascos was always placed on the minorities, who were the financial backbone of the empire. This is also very well documented, as it was standard practice for hundreds of years. The bottom line is that these stolen assets all belong to the Armenian people. But which Armenian people ? who lays claim? the Armenians of Turkey, the Armenians of Armenia or the Armenians of the diaspora (who are largely of Turkish origin). Let’s just hope that once this is resolved in favor of the rightful owners, that it actually benefits Armenians, Armenian organizations in Turkey or Armenia itself and not the lawyers who are pressing the case. Justified as it is, no one else should benefit unscrupulously from this.
There is not much hope in tracing specific amounts to specific individuals and their descendants. I conservatively estimate the gold to be worth approximately
$ 800,000,000 yeah, eight hundred million dollars. Some people say a trillion and a half. If you divided that equally between every armenian man woman orchild, that would be between one to two hundred dollars. A nice christmas present, but not significant. But if one were to allocate the amount to an Armenian foundation that built huge infrastructure projects. Like hydroelectric dams in Armenia, and used the subsequent income to fund other similar projects. Road building, water projects, electrifying, universal internet, fish farming and cattle breeding projects. Armenia should be the Switzerland of the Caucasus.
re: “or the Armenians of the diaspora (who are largely of Turkish origin)”
What ‘Turkish origin’ ? There is no such thing. There are no Armenians that originated from Turks: it’s the other way around – quite a large number of today’s Turks have forcibly-stolen Armenian genes in their composition, and not counting millions of forcibly Islamized Armenians in Turkey.
re: “Armenian organizations in Turkey”
Which Armenian organizations in Turkey ? It would be tantamount to giving it back to the Turkish State.
Avery, no one is saying that Armenians ‘originated from Turks’, and I agree, it’s the other way around, but have you ever heard the term, Turka-Hye? Rusa-Hye? Barska-Hye? It is in that geopolitical and linguistic context that I used the term. As for organizations in Turkey, there is the patriarchate with many churches, educational foundations and schools, as well as many vibrant cultural organizations. No one would advocate giving that to the Turkish state, that’s for sure. They’ve stolen enough, as we all know.
“No one is saying that Armenians ‘originated from Turks’, and I agree, it’s the other way around…”
False. It’s not the other way around. Turks originated from the Seljuk and Mongol nomads in the first place. They then attempted to ennoble their newly-cooked nation by assimilating Armenians, Byzantine Greeks, Bakan Christians, Assyrians, etc.
“As for organizations in Turkey, there is the patriarchate with many churches, educational foundations and schools, as well as many vibrant cultural organizations.”
False. These organizations remain strictly in Istanbul only. Virtually no such organizations exist in rest of Turkey. Flat ground, piles of stones, desecrated cemeteries, desecrated cross-stones, churches-transformed-to-mosques and sheepcots are what remains of the rich, multi-thousand existence of Armenians on their lands in eastern Turkey.
Karekin – The Armenians of the Diaspora are largely of Western Armenian origin, a distinct sedentary ethnos that’s been living on their lands for millennia. It just happened to be colonized by the Turks. The Turkish colonization doesn’t make me or my ancestors of “Turkish origin”. My nation has its own geographically and ethnically distinct, culturally rich, and historically proven origin.
P.S. Do the Turks themselves know what “origin” their made-up nation is?
Yes, thank you all very much, but I know full well where both Armenians and Turks originated, and of course there’s no debate there. But, let’s not ignore the basic issue in question. The real issue is, if/when this gold is fully repatriated to Armenians (and which could amount to a huge sum in today’s dollars), to whom exactly will it go? Where will it go? Who would you suggest? Can the original owners be identified or family members found? If not, should it go to Armenia, in full or in part? The reason for suggesting Armenian organizations in Turkey is only because that’s probably where most of this came from originally.
The one who knows “full well” where both Armenians and Turks originated would never make a statement as foolhardy as “the Armenians of the Diaspora… are largely of Turkish origin”.
Paul – please, get over your petty self-righteousness and stick to the topic at hand. I suspect your grandparents and other ancestors were citizens of the Ottoman empire, like most of ours. If you’d like to discuss this without inane diversions, fine. Happy to do that, but please don’t try to drag everyone into a vortex of wordgames that distract from the seriousness of this issue.
Being invaded by the Seljuks, then colonized by the Ottoman Turks thus forcefully becoming citizens of the Ottoman empire, which in the end found a known final solution to its own citizens of Armenian descent, in no way qualifies me and our ancestors to be “largely of Turkish origin”… This is not an “inane diversion.” This is a reinstatement of a conventional truth, such as, for instance, this one: Modern-day Turks are largely of Mongol/Central Asian origin.
Sorry, Karekin, but I think you need to be more careful with your own words if you want to avoid ‘being dragged into word games.’ Actually, it’s more like you “stepped in it” when you speak with American Armenians and say they are mostly of ‘Turkish’ origin. I think I know what you meant–that American Armenians are primarily descended from Western Armenia which was the Ottoman Empire and is now the Republic of Turkey. But that is not what you said.
You should know by now that most Armenians would reflexively vomit at the suggestion that they are of Turkish origin, especially since those lands now called “Turkey” are only nominally of Turkish ancestry, and only after successful pillaging and genocide, and wide-scale forced mixing of ethnic groups, as well. Ask the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians, Alevis, Yezidis, Kurds, etc., what they would think of being told they are of “Turkish origin,” simply because their murdering conquerors renamed their homeland. What do you think the Kurds are fighting for in Turkey if not the right to identify themselves as Kurdish without facing discrimination as citizens of Turkey. This is not meant to denigrate those who are truly of ‘Turkish origin’, but an attempt to encourage you to be more precise and sensitive to your audience. Putting ‘oglu’ at the end of my name does not make me or you or anyone else Turkish.
Also, this assumption regarding demographic make-up of the American Armenian is changing with all the recent immigration from other diasporan areas and the RA. I don’t like bickering over words any more than you do. Just say sorry and clarify.
One further thought for Karekin:
On this forum, we can’t see each other or hear each other’s tone of voice. All we have is words. Words matter.
Yes, Boyajian, that’s exactly what I meant. However, this word game is like walking on eggshells. If I had said Anatolian origin, or Asia Minor, or whatever else, I’m sure someone out there would be upset. That said, does this mean are we not to designate Armenians by geographic origin anymore? As far as I know, the tradition has always been to refer to Armenians as either Turka-Hye, Rusa-Hye, Barsga-Hye, Libana-Hye, Amerika-Hye, etc. That was the context in which I was using it….there was no DNA association at all. None. And, to assume that on this forum is also a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? This ultra-sensitivity and hyper-vigilance on such minute details belies an insecurity that I don’t subscribe to. I prefer to think that we’re bigger, better and tougher than that, but am always reminded that some of us clearly are not.
By the way, Paul….recent DNA studies have shown that most (89%, actually) of modern day ‘Turks’ share more genetic material with modern day Armenians than with anyone in Central Asia. That’s because there were so few Turks who conquered Byzantine Anatolia and Armenia, and those who arrived in conquest were men…not women. Who do you think they took as wives? Native Armenian and Greek women. This resulted in an immediate dilution of their gene pool that continued in force for 1000 years. The whole idea of who or what a ‘Turk’ actually is on a genetic level is very different from the artificial ethnicity created in the 20th C. by the Young Turks and Ataturk.
On this issue, Garo´s was the best input with plenty insight.Why are we lagging behind issues such as this.
I request harut Sassounian to take up the matgter witht the ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION,period.Not this that independently acting Armenian or non armenian Law firms, period.What are the 500 strong members of the Armen.Bar Assoc. there for?
if not prepare Dossiers like this one and also ABOVE ALL OUR MAIN ISSUE…PREPARE AND LODGE OFFICIALLY OUR CLAIM ON BLOOD MONEY FROM OTTOAM TURKISH HERIS GREAT TURKISH GOVT.
How strange!!!I went back on this issue*pickin it up from the blue lined old themes that AW HAS AND POPS UP THIS 2 year old one..
So this was a topic touched upon previously too.w/Only difference ,that it spoke of GOLD stolen by the great Turkish ottoman Govt. then…
Again a reminder to dear Mr. harut Sassounian *our bdest Journalist activits this side of the atlantic Ocean.. to contact the 500 strong-maybe grown now to over that-BAR Asasoc. in L.A> to start PREPARING OUR OVERALL ARMENIAN C A S E VS. GREAT tURKEY , HEIR OF OTTOMAN AND ATATURK STATE.The Genocide state!!!!
Time to act is now, couple yrs left for the 100th Anniversay of the Genocide!!!!
“A chaque un son metier” to ea his her own job.This is Int’l attorneys Task…
Brothers and sisters and not one or two lawsyers but a Group one!!!or the whole 500 of them to hold meeting elect specia committeee or sub committe and pick it up from there!!!!!
Even if the modern-day Turks would share 100% of genetic material with modern day Armenians, it wouldn’t disprove of a historical fact that their origin is in Central Asia and DNA results may only testify to another historical fact that, as nomads, Seljuk Turks interbred with sedentary Christian peoples of Asia Minor in an attempt to ennoble themselves. As of early 20th century, these attempts at ennoblement were proven futile: Ottoman Turks mass murdered, mutilated, tortured, deported and converted people just like they did several centuries ago during the invasions of their predecessors, the Seljuks. A “few” Seljuks couldn’t possibly conquer such vast a territory as the Byzantine empire (never heard of “Byzantine Anatolia” before) and Armenia starting with the Mongolian steppes on to the Kazakh steppes over the Caspian Sea onto the Armenian Plateau and Asia Minor. In fact, there were hoards of them invading the area.
Boyajian: I doubt that individuals of his ilk ever say “sorry.” In some other thread I read he allowed a slander of Christ and never apologized. I wonder if he ever apologized…
Understood Karekin, we certainly use those compound terms to describe where Armenians come from. But the expression Turqa-hai always sticks in my throat a bit, as it on some level feels as if we are conceding that what was stolen is now legitimately theirs.
Hye Paul, too, and all the unburied bones of Armenians who were slaughtered, tortured, marched to their deaths – only then released from the horrors devised of the Turkish mentality.
HYe Paul, you speak the truths. Thanks. Manooshag
Thanks for the input, Paul. You may be right…
Karekin, you may say Armenians are “hyper-vigilant and over-sensitive, belying insecurity.” I look at it from the other side. Sometimes insensitivity to others’ feelings derives from the failure to deal honestly with one’s own feelings. One way to deal with the pain of surviving a genocide is to push aside the emotions and barrel-ahead, focusing only on the future and rebuilding one’s life. This is the attitude most first generation diasporans had. They swallowed the pain and focused on being strong and successful and passed this strident personality on to their children. It’s not bad to be strong and successful. But if a lack of tenderness for self translates into a lack of tolerance for perceived ‘weakness’ in others, one can become insensitive and overly-critical toward others.
Just my thoughts. The Armenian community is still dealing with the insidious effects of the genocide on the descendants of those who survived with their lives, but not without scars. We may build churches and monuments and raise-funds for the motherland, but can we build communities of love and support for one another? Just look around you. Armenians are sniping each other, suing each other, stealing from each other and feeling justified as they do it. Time to find justification where we need it the most.
Re: “….recent DNA studies have shown that most (89%, actually) of modern day ‘Turks’ share more genetic material with modern day Armenians than with anyone in Central Asia”
Please provide source/link to that study.
Just the same, by appearance alone, it’s easy for a layman to see that today’s ‘Turks’ (in quotes), are nothing like their forebears: see some pics of today’s Turkmens from Turkmenistan. The ‘Father’ of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, has blue eyes: the blue eye mutation does not exist in Asiatic races.
Unfortunately, as paul indicated, Turks’ appearance has not affected their Asiatic nomadic barbarian core, at least for a large part of the population: in what other modern, civilized country the President of the State (e.g. Abdullah Gul) would sue – and win – for the ‘grave insult’ of having someone allege that his mother is of Armenian origin: presumably, in modern Turkey if you have an Armenian mother, it is equivalent to having non-human ancestry.
re: “. That’s because there were so few Turks who conquered Byzantine Anatolia and Armenia, and those who arrived in conquest were men…not women”
It is true that in ancient times invading armies were relatively small compared to modern times. At the Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks had an army of about 20,000, and Byzantium also had and army of about 20,000. (see Notes 1 and 2 below)
Around 1,000,000 (one million) Turkic migrants settled in ‘Anatolia’ during the 12th and 13th centuries ( source: “Peter B. Golden. An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples”).
Even today, that level of migration would be considered quite huge. I have no population figures for Armenia in that time frame. However, the Byzantine Empire had a population of about 12 Million around 1000, and about 5 Million around 1300 (the Entire Byzantium): Again no figures on how many million inhabited the Eastern part of Byzantium.. So, clearly, 1 Million Turkic people forcefully migrating – mostly into Western Armenia/Eastern Part of Byzantium -would and did have a catastrophic effect on the indigenous populations.
Note1: [Seljuk Turks defeated Byzantine armies at the Battle of Manzikert in the summer of 1071 (Մանազկերտ, Manazkert). Manazkert is about 50 miles from the City of Van.]
Note2: [Alexander the Great, who created one of the largest empires in the world, had an army of about 40,000 men, which at various battles dropped to 10,000 to 20,000. Also, Alexander encouraged his officers and men to take local wives in consensual marriages: many did. However, even though Alexander’s empire stretched all the way to India, we don’t see too many traces of Greek genes East of Western Armenia: why is that ?]
Again, all of the above unnecessary discussion on the origin of Armenians and Turks shows me that you guys are unable to unite for an important purpose. Your own bitterness against each other makes you deviate from the fact that no one in Armenia cares about long forgotten gold or origin, their economy is in ruins and since you live in the past you still haven’t woken up to that is all they care about.
Boyajian and Ali, you are right. THere are Armenians of every stripe and religious affiliation in this world. I accept them all. What I don’t accept is the demonization of any human being in the name of any kind of religious fundatmentalism or racist ideology. It cuts against my idea of what it is to be human and Christian. But again, the real topic here is the return of the stolen gold – the value of which must at this time be in the hundreds of billions of dollars – to the Armenian people. Does that mean the treasury of Armenia or to the rightful owners? No one seems to want to answer this simple question. Armenia is destitute….millions don’t even live with running water or electricity or heat in the winter. There is no viable infrastructure. Please think about the living who are suffering, for a change. If you really care about anyone in a selfless way, those people should come first…well before any ideas or ideologies. I’ll say it again, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Spewing forth rapid-fire insults does not solve problems or help people! But a sane, rational discussion, free of fantasy, might help move people in the right direction. Yes, of course, MIGHT…as there are not guarantees, except that we clearly know how unproductive certain approaches are…If you truly believe in Hai Tahd and working for it, this issue of the Armenian gold must be addressed professionally, intelligently and with vigor, without mindless, racist or hateful diversions.
You’re deliberately shifting the emphases. If you followed this thread, you should have noticed that there was no discussion at the outset on the origin of Armenians and Turks. The discussion on Armenian gold looted by Ottoman Turks proceeded calmly up until a commentator posting under the name “Karekin” wrongfully attested that the “Diasporan Armenians were largely of Turkish origin.” So, the comments of several successive commentators were aimed at correcting this outrageous statement. It has nothing to do with our “inability to unite for an important purpose.” As a matter of fact Armenians show astonishing unity in pursuing the Cause for receiving justice for them in all spheres, including reparations for the grand theft from the Turkish state. And Ali, every nation’s economy would be in ruins when a nation has only 20 years of independent history, its wealth stolen by the neighbors (read: Ottoman Turks who enriched themselves on our account), closed borders and economic blockade imposed by modern-day Turkey. So, please wake up and face the reality!
The prevailing majority of Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, not “every” religious affiliation. What do “religious fundamentalism or racist ideology,” never demonstrated in this thread, have to do with the topic of this discussion?
“Armenia is destitute….millions don’t even live with running water or electricity or heat in the winter.” When have you been to Armenia last time? Where did you see “millions” living with no running water or electricity or heat in the winter? People in Armenia would laugh at you if you mumble this rubbish there. Viable infrastructure doesn’t exist, yes. But bear in mind that the country is just 20 years old and its borders are closed and an economic blockade is imposed by your beloved Turkey.
I’m amazed at your cynical ability to accuse others of “spewing forth rapid-fire insults” when it was you who interfered in this discussion by allowing you an insult to Armenians in that they were “largely of Turkish origin.” Before that point people here were having, in your words, “a sane, rational discussion, free of fantasy” without “mindless, racist or hateful diversions.” If I’m wrong, prove me wrong by referring me to any comment above that contained such diversions.
I think your own purpose in AW is to divert Armenians from discussing topics that hold a potential of offering possible solutions for concrete issues pertaining to the Armenian Cause.
I agree Karekin, though I disagree with Ali that no one in Armenia cares about the return of stolen gold. That gold could buy a lot of heavy machinery for road building, pipe laying, and other infrastructure, as well as provide food and shelter for the destitute in Armenia. Imagine what a large cash infusion could do for small business, entrepreneurship and economic reinvigoration.
Less emphasis on denigration of others and more on legal aspects and restitution of justice is in order. My personal opinion is that the Armenian church and schools in Turkey and the many suffering communities in Armenia should receive the benefits of the return of these stolen goods. Diasporan communities should not seek to benefit from this money, other than to be able to invest it in justice for the Armenian nation.
Boyajian – I could not agree with you more. Well said. Clear, succinct and to the point. Most appreciated. At this point, I suspect few in Armenia even know about this story, though senior level people in government do. I know this as a fact based on personal experience and discussions. Let’s just hope tihs goes well for Armenia and Armenians.
Turkey is in trouble. As the Soviet Union fell apart due to the advent of modern information, so will Turkey. Fortunately for the army generals and the beneficiaries from the greatest mass robbery of its Christion Populations, the countryside has been in a backward state, its people living in darkness. As modernity reaches the furthest corners of Turkey, that will ensue in Democratization, which will result in the Balcanization of Anatolia and what remains of the old Ottoman tirany. First the Kurds, then the Yezidi’s and so on. Turkey, under its modern veneer, is still a tribal country, and when the myth of Turanian ancestry strikes home, like all inconvenient lies, the glue that holds Turkey together, will melt.